Live blog | US approves $ 40 billion rescue package; Zelensky predicts Mariupol liberation

It is day 77 of the war in Ukraine, where Russia has launched an invasion. In this liveblog you can read the latest news about the war and all its consequences.

Podcast | Boekestijn og De Wijk: Ukraine update Tuesday, day 76


‘Relief that Putin has not declared total war’

06:30 | In Russia, there is ‘relief’ after President Vladimir Putin’s speech on Monday. “There is relief that he did not declare total war and thus the mobilization,” said Russia correspondent Joost Bosman.

Bosman notes from Moscow that the weight of the war has diminished and there is less ‘panic’, as at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. ‘The panic in the first two weeks where people hoarded money has disappeared. You see some shops open again and restaurants and cafes are full again. The regime is also aware of this. “

‘Russian companies are no longer welcome for gas projects in the North Sea’

06:10 | If it stands for the House of Representatives, Russian companies are no longer welcome in gas production projects in the North Sea. Companies cooperating with Russia must also be banned. A proposal from VVD to make this possible can count on broad support in the House of Representatives today.

VVD MP Jeroen van Wijngaarden has taken the initiative to ban Russian companies from the North Sea. He explains to RTL Nieuws that this proposal stems from ‘bitter necessity to reduce our dependence on Russian gas.’

According to Van Wijngaarden, Russia is not only waging a criminal war in Ukraine, but according to him, the country is also trying to spy on the Netherlands and sabotage projects in all possible ways. He is particularly interested in Russian gas giant Gazprom, which may be involved in attempts to “disrupt critical and vital infrastructure.” According to the VVD member, Gazprom has wrong intentions. “It means that you also have to have that kind of Russian companies from the North Sea,” he says.

“Gas production in the North Sea is essential,” says Van Wijngaarden. ‘So we need to legislate that Russian companies, even though they are part of a larger partnership, be excluded from new gas production projects in the North Sea.’ The House of Representatives is currently discussing gas extraction in the North Sea. Van Wijngarden’s proposal can count on a majority in the House.

US House approves $ 40 billion military aid package

05:45 | The US House of Representatives on Tuesday (local time) approved a $ 40 billion military aid package to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion. The measure received overwhelming support with 368 votes in favor and only 57 against. It is therefore expected that the Senate, which is due to vote on Thursday, will also adopt the proposal by a large majority.

The House-approved Ukraine aid plan significantly exceeds the $ 33 billion requested by President Joe Biden. The total allocated $ 40 billion represents more than 5 percent of the United States’ total defense budget ($ 782 billion). The new package does not include the $ 4.5 billion in “security assistance” that the United States has provided to Ukraine since the Biden administration took office. About 3.8 billion of it has been given since the Russian invasion on 24 February.

The bill includes $ 11 billion in weapons and equipment transferred directly to Ukraine from U.S. military depots. The package also includes nearly $ 20 billion for the Department of Defense. The Pentagon will largely use this amount to arm the Ukrainian military. An additional $ 3.9 billion will be made available for increased troop deployment and other military operations in Europe to strengthen NATO. The law also covers the financing of various humanitarian programs.

Zelensky praises Ukrainian troops’ ‘superhuman strength’

01:45 | Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky has praised the “superhuman strength” of Ukrainian troops in their fight against the invaded Russian army. He did so in his daily video message, also noting that Ukrainians are fighting against “what was once considered the second strongest army in the world.”

Zelensky also referred to reports from the Ukrainian military leadership on territorial gains near the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov, published earlier Tuesday. The army is said to have recaptured villages from Russian forces and launched a counter-offensive that could shift the momentum of the war by halting Russia’s advance into eastern Ukraine.

According to Zelensky, the occupying forces are being ‘gradually’ driven out of the north-eastern part of the country, which has been bombed incessantly since the start of the war. “All our cities will be liberated,” the president predicted, “Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk. Mariupol and all the other cities.”

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